Kitty O'Meara's prose poem "And the people stayed home" has struck a chord with all those affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, even Deepak Chopra and Oprah are raving about it.
A retired teacher, Kitty O'Meara, from the city of Madison, in Wisconsin, turned to writing in an effort to curb her own anxiety amid the nerve-wracking news of the COVID-19 pandemic. The result, which she posted to her personal Facebook, has been widely read across the world offering hope that something good can come out of this collective state of "together, apart."
O'Meara's poem suggests that we view this era of social distancing as a chance to undertake purposeful activities like meditation, exercise, and dancing, and result in a kind of global healing.
The poem, "And the people stayed home" reads:
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
Someone had even made a video for it:
Dubbed "the poet laureate of the pandemic", O'Meara spoke to The Oprah Magazine about her viral popularity.
O'Meara told the magazine her poem was the accumulation of months of anxiety as she'd be watching the pandemic unfold. She said of her poem "It offers a story of how it could be, what we could do with this time."
She added "I was anxious for the past few months. I knew this was coming and I couldn't be of service."
O'Meara who has worked in palliative care for the last years also said she is especially concerned for her friends who still work in the health care profession and are on the frontlines of battling the virus.
She said "I was getting kind of sad. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t help my friends. I was very worried about them. My husband said: ‘Write. Just write again.'"
"...I just kind of sat down and wrote it," O'Meara said. "I saw the maps of the receding pollution over China and Europe. I thought, ‘There you go. There’s something of blessing in all suffering.' And I thought with my passionate love for the Earth, maybe that’s one good thing."
Within three days of posting the poem on her Facebook O'Meara released her poem has gone viral. O'Meara said she's been getting letters from fans but she said her fame won't change how she approaches her writing.
As O Mag put it "O'Meara is not an expert on dealing with this global crisis, she says. She's just another person, trying to find grace in the free-fall."
What do you think of the poem? Let us know in the comments section below.
* Originally published on March 20, 2020.